Researchers from the University of Tampere took to the Tammela market square this week and welcomed local residents to engage with them in developing the area’s future. Housed in a large blue shipping container, a group of researchers from the University of Tampere set up a temporary information center for area residents interested in contributing to the ambitious, urban densification plans developed by the City. Building upon an extensive development process the City released a comprehensive Master Plan in 2012 which outlined the potential for new densification projects throughout the city.

As the first of these densification projects began to take form a group of researchers set out to engage area residents to ensure that their opinions and concerns contribute to the development of the area. Due to the large amount of land plots owned by housing cooperatives, the success of the City’s densification plans rely even more heavily on the participation and enthusiasm of the area’s residents. In an effort to expand interaction between the area’s residents and those contributing to the City’s plans, researchers from the University of Tampere’s Politics of Nature and the Environment Research Group (PONTE) developed a model which enabled interaction over the an extended period and in a less formalized environment than typically found in the open-houses or community hearings commonly held by cities undertaking such projects.

Wednesday’s program in the square saw a group of architects and officials from the City of Tampere closely involved with the development process as well as a representative from the local residents’ organization join the research group and engage in open discussion with visitors. The day saw a steady stream of interested citizens stopping by the container and engaging in enthusiastic discussion with the staff and the visiting architects, officials, and representatives. Discussions touched on a vast range of topics of interest, including such central issues as integrating cyclists into the city’s traffic system, improving public transit, ensuring sufficient and convenient parking for area residents, retaining the city’s green spaces, as well as the practicalities of starting densification projects on the level of an individual housing cooperative.

The container’s walls were lined with information regarding the plans, including current aerial photographs of the area as well as the proposed plans for development. This array of instantly available information, spurred local residents visiting the container to voice their opinions and engage with the planning process, giving them a real-world context for the plans at hand and an immediate outlet for their contributions. The day’s interactions brought a wide range of perspectives on the area’s future and emphasized the crucial role which citizens play in the planning process by helping to guide development through their ideas and needs.

For more on this project you can find it on Facebook (in Finnish)!

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Reframing City Districts (ReCiDi)

A research project conducted by the Universities of Turku and Tampere which aims to form a new conceptual framework which will help shape the collective identity and common vision necessary to realize the future low-carbon and sustainability targets.

Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation (SASUI)

An action learning and research project conducted by Aalto University and the University of Tampere which aimed to form a better understanding of the architectural requirements for successful innovation projects.